Mike Cacciotti credits Bishop Guilfoyle Catholic High School with making a profound impact on his life.
Now he says he can start giving back to his alma mater.
The 39-year-old Cacciotti, a 1991 BG grad, has been hired to become Bishop Guilfoyle's new athletic director and assistant principal, effective July 1, the school announced on Wednesday.
Cacciotti replaces Greg Snyder as athletic director. Snyder accepted the athletic director and football coach openings at Bishop Carroll on April 4.
"There have been so many people in front of me that have taken a role at Bishop Guilfoyle. Guys like Tom Irwin and Marty Georgiana. I reached out to some people in the past couple of days, alumni, former administrators and coaches,'' Cacciotti said. "I just let them know because of what you did for me, now I get to give back.''
A 1996 graduate of Mansfield University who went on to play and coach for the Altoona Rail Kings minor league baseball franchise, Cacciotti has been a teacher in the Altoona Area School District for the last 16 years. Since 2007, he has been a special education instructor at the William P. Kimmel Alternative School.
As athletic director, he'll oversee 17 varsity sports and three club sports, in addition to all junior varsity and junior varsity programs. According to a press release, athletic fund raising will be a key part of Cacciotti's responsibilities.
"He spoke well to the vision he sees of athletics and the schools,'' said Joan Donnelly, present vice-principal who will be taking over as principal.
Cacciotti was one of 17 applicants for the athletic directors post, seven of whom were interviewed. During that process, the school decided it would separate its principal position from president of its board of trustees. It then was determined it could create an assistant principal's position to coincide with that of the AD - Cacciotti was one of several athletic director applicants who also fit the administrative requirements.
With the consolidation of both jobs into a full-time position, Donnelly is hopeful Cacciotti can stop what has been something of a revolving door for Guilfoyle athletic directors since Pete Mitchell stepped down in October 2001.
"Longevity,'' Donnelly said, "was one of the things that probably led us to the decision we reached.''
Cacciotti shares that hope.
"I'm looking to give them some stability, and I told them that. It's not like a position that I'm looking to use as a stepping stone. I'm going to be there for a long time,'' Cacciotti said. "Obviously, I'm going to want to do a good job, because I have a vested interest. My children are going to come through there.''
Cacciotti and his wife, Becky, who will celebrate their 11th anniversary on June 16, have five children: Julia, 10; Dominic, 9; Michael, 5; Rocco, 3; and Gina, an infant. The children that are in school all attend Altoona Central Catholic.
Cacciotti, his mother, four brothers and sisters are Guilfoyle graduates, as are his wife and four of her siblings.
"Obviously, I'm excited. BG is such a nice place with such a family atmosphere, and to be going back to that [is great]. What they believe in and what I believe in are the same,'' Cacciotti said.
Guilfoyle's girls basketball team won its sixth straight District 6 Class A championship this winter, while the Marauder baseball team finished as district runner-up and the boys basketball team advanced to the state tournament. Cacciotti, though, said his intentions aren't just to maintain the status quo.
"They have a high standard. I'm going to keep that standard high and then build on it and maybe raise the bar some more and take them some places with athletics,'' Cacciotti said. "We want the kids to understand they're student-athletics and academics are always first. We're trying to build a complete person. Obviously, faith is very important. I'm big on multi-sport athletes. I want kids involved in two and three sports a year. It's all about the experiences of high school.''